Re-thinking innovation through a moral economy lens: the case of alternative agro-food and mobility practices

Psarikidou, Katerina (2015) Re-thinking innovation through a moral economy lens: the case of alternative agro-food and mobility practices. Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization, 15 (1). pp. 67-93. ISSN 1473-2866

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In recent times of crisis, innovation has been recognised as a critical response to the multiple social and economic challenges contemporary societies have to face. Diverse organisations and actors have been constructing visions and imaginaries aiming at identifying various ‘sustainable innovations’ (Urry, 2011; 2013) that promise to provide their own remedies for such challenges. In many cases, however, such innovations appear to evolve into conservative, top-down projects of exclusion whose contribution is reduced to the production of constant economic growth and the participation of specific ‘innovators’, while overshadowing the role of other networks or actors involved in such processes (Felt et al., 2007; Suchman and Bishop, 2000). Among these organisations and actors, an increasing number of alternative economic organisations and initiatives have emerged that aim to develop their own pathways for transformation and change. Drawing on findings from the Liveable Cities and FAAN research projects, this paper is focused on a selection of alternative agro-food and mobility practices in the cities of Manchester and Birmingham, in order to explore their potential to constitute alternative innovation practices. More specifically, after an exploration of the different definitions, concepts and discourses variously used to describe, but also challenge, the concept of ‘innovation’ and its dominant understanding in policy and research (EC, 2013; Felt et al., 2007; Tyfield, 2013; Geels and Schot, 2007), this paper employs the political economic discourse of the ‘moral economy’ (Sayer, 2000; Booth, 1994; Thompson, 1971), as well as sociological and anthropological theories of value, money and commodities (Graeber, 2001; North, 2007; Zelizer, 1989; Appadurai, 1994). In doing so, it suggests an alternative perspective for approaching innovation through a moral economy lens. More specifically, by exploring the particular moral economic characteristics of alternative agrofood and mobility practices, it suggests going beyond a narrow understanding of innovation by situating it in the moral economy of such practices and the wider set of social values and symbolic meanings attributed to them.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Katerina Psarikidou
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2019 10:25
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2019 10:25

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